Entertaining draw with Monaco rounds off pre-season
Twenty-four hours on from the "Day of the Open Door" the next highlight of the pre-season programme rolled around: French champions AS Monaco were in town to take on the Hütteldorfers in the Allianz Stadium in the prestigious annual International Friendly. Over 10,000 Rapid fans were on hand to welcome the sides onto the pitch, with the spectators looking on from stands bathed in summer sunshine. But the game represented more than a simple run out for the Green & Whites: In the coming week the first competitive fixture of the new season looms large in the shape of the first round of the ÖFB-UNIQA-Cup.
There were no major surprises in the starting eleven, with Christopher Dibon missing out as expected having picked up an injury on Wednesday in Bad Wimsbach. Both sides manufactured decent opportunities in the opening stages: Newly signed Monaco keeper Benaglio parried a long-range effort from Stefan Schwab to safety, before the French side fired a decent opportunity over the bar. Despite only being a friendly, there was certainly a competitive edge to the contest. For Rapid, the game was an excellent opportunity to put the hard work done on the training pitches into practice, and also to quickly learn from - and react to - mistakes: Having been afforded far too much space, Lopes was on hand to open the scoring, tapping the ball into an empty from close range having got on the end of a cross from the flank - 0:1 (15.).
A further long range shot from newly-appointed captain Stefan Schwab drew a save from Benaglio (30.), before Tamas Szanto had a goal chalked off for offside (44.). At the other end, Rapid breathed a sigh of relief when Max Wöber deflected a headed effort just inches over the goal frame. The half time whistle went with the French champions still a goal to the good.
It didn't take long for Monaco to double their lead after the re-start: Carillo's shot from a tight angle rebounded cruelly off the post, onto substitute goalie Richard Strebinger and into the net to double the visitor’s advantage - 0:2 (52.). To their credit, the Hütteldorfers refused to buckle and quickly dragged themselves back into the contest thanks to a Schwab header from a Murg corner - 1:2 and the skipper had announced a new era in style after taking over possession of the captain’s armband from Steffen Hofmann in midweek (54.)!
With the now expectant crowd having barely had the chance to return to their seats, the goal celebration music once was again soon ringing around the Allianz Stadium - albeit prematurely: A beautifully incisive pass from Schwab picked out the run of Joelinton, who buried the ball with a minimum of fuss, only to have celebrations cut short by the linesman's flag for the second time of the afternoon (58.). A raft of substitutions that followed in the aftermath of the disallowed goal did nothing to disrupt Rapid's momentum, and the equaliser eventually materialised thanks to a rasping volley from Manuel Thurnwald that rocketed into the corner giving Sy in the Monaco goal no chance - 2:2 and a wonderful strike (71.).
Having come back from two down it was the Green & Whites who were now searching for the winner. A superb pass from Andi Kuen put Philipp Prosenik through on goal, but Sy did incredibly well to turn the striker's attempt round the post. The resulting corner again presented Prosenik with a chance, but with the goalie stranded he couldn't get his header on target. The game finished an entertaining 2:2 draw, and the work out and come back will have done wonders for Rapid's self-belief. The Hütteldorfers look well prepared for the long season that lies ahead!
SK Rapid - AS Monaco 2:2 (0:1)
Sunday, 9th Juli 2017, Allianz Stadion, 9.800 Attendance
Goals: 0:1 Lopes (15.), 0:2 Carillo (52.), 1:2 Schwab (54.), 2:2 Thurnwald (71.);
SK Rapid: Knoflach (46. Strebinger); Pavelic (60. Thurnwald), Sonnleitner (60. Schösswendter), Wöber (60. M. Hofmann), Schrammel (60. Bolingoli); Auer (60. S. Hofmann), Schwab (60. Ljubicic); Murg (60. Keles), Szanto (60. Prosenik), Schaub (60. Kuen); Joelinton (60. Sobczyk);